Rosetown's Vaughn Watterodt will let you know quickly that he has enjoyed his time this season as a Saskatoon Blade. Being close to home, getting an increased role, and becoming a player to watch at times for the team has resulted in a strong feeling that things are going good in Saskatoon, as the team enters tonight needing a Game 5 win in Moose Jaw to keep their season alive.
Watterodt was part of the starting lineup each period in Saskatoon's most recent playoff match-up against Moose Jaw, where they took a 5-3 triumph on Wednesday night to avoid a first round series sweep. They didn't put up much of fight over the series first two games in Moose Jaw, though Watterodt did collect a goal during the road portion. When they returned back home the Blades would lose a Game 3 heartbreaker in overtime, setting up the must win situation in Game 4.
The Blades did just that, playing a very strong game against the team that put them in a 3-0 series hole. West Central Online was in attendance for that one, and got into contact with Watterodt the next day following their series extending victory.
He says the feeling in the locker room is always great regardless of their situation as they head to Moose Jaw tonight.
"We are really optimistic right now, we just need to continue to play our game. They are a good team over in Moose Jaw, but we just need to continue playing the way we need to," said Watterodt, commenting on the Game 3 loss, "It was a letdown, an unlucky bounce on our side that led to the goal in overtime."
Watterodt took an unfortunate double-minor in the game that thankfully didn't end up costing the team, but he didn't get so lucky in Game 4 when a hooking penalty of his cost the team a goal. Still they got the win, and Watterodt is willing to roll with the punches.
"I really like my role, I've come into my own in the league this year coming into Saskatoon."
Recently he has gotten an opportunity on the team's penalty kill, and he feels he has picked it up nicely.
"Learning that role, and I think I've been succeeding at it pretty well," said Watterodt, "It's only going to get better here in Saskatoon, so I'm excited to be here and have everything that comes with it."
Watterodt hasn't put up the points this year to be a lock when it comes to NHL draft discussions, but his hard play has had to have caught some eyes. Despite it being his first draft year, he hasn't put too much thought into the process, though some teams have questioned his coach about what #18 brings. One guaranteed aspect of his game is hard work and grit, and he works hard for his teammates every single game.
"We have really good guys. Our 20's are unbelievable," said Watterodt about players like San Jose Sharks draft pick Tristen Robins, stalwart defenseman Rhett Rhinehart, and record setting goaltender Nolan Maier, "They are good leaders for this league, and Maier is probably one of the best goalies to do it."
Watterodt wouldn't want to go into battle with anyone else to finish out his rookie year this postseason.
"We have a really good group of guys. Everyone is super positive in the room, and if we are going to make this comeback we are going to need everyone to be positive, and do what they do best on the ice. We are a great team."
His teammates have to love the trash talk included in Watterodt's game, but likely not one of his biggest fans who gets to make the trip to every game now that he plays in Saskatoon.
"My mom comes to lots of games, even on weekdays sometimes she will come down to Saskatoon and watch them. Every weekend my family is there watching with my jersey on, so that's nice."
Watterodt had some extra time to sleep in yesterday with the team idle following their big win, but the Blades will be off the bus in Moose Jaw later today with a mission on their minds to keep their season going, take things one game at a time, and send the series back to Saskatoon.